Monday, November 06, 2006

The Problem With Idolizing

Ousted Evangelist Rev. Ted Haggard Tells Followers He's Guilty of 'Sexual Immorality'

At first glance, this merely appears to be another example of a powerful Christian leader caught in the act of some immoral act. To be sure, that is what it is. But, there is also another side to it.

Pastors of large churches and national organizations are put in the spotlight. We expect them to be perfect and to not make poor decisions because they are somehow more holy than the rest of us. Certainly, church leaders should live their lives in such a way as to bring people closer to God and to each other. However, when someone gets too "high and mighty" we tend to forget they are just like the rest of us. They are just regular people who are tempted to sin and make mistakes just like the rest of us.

I don't excuse Haggard for his actions. But, there is a tendency for people in his position to feel they have to "perform" for the masses in order to maintain their persona of a "true person of faith." Trouble comes when they are put on a pedestal so high they start to appear as "super holy" and we forget they are just regular folks. When they fall, it's usually very fast and very hard.

Church leaders: if you don't have people around you who know you inside and out with whom you can share your deepest, darkest secrets, you are asking for trouble. Just having your spouse with you isn't enough. You need to find people of the same gender to whom you can confess and be accountable to. I also don't just mean your church board, deacon board, elders or whatever else you wish to call such groups. I'm talking about a small, tight circle of friends outside the normal "church life" with whom you can really show your humanity.

Church Leaders: take some time out today and find fellow Christians who can help keep you on the "straight and narrow." It takes time to develop such close friendships, but it's worth every minute. With such a group you can be honest about your failings and temptations. You can nip those little sins in the bud before they become big problems.

Church Leaders: Be transparent to the people you lead (to a lesser extent than your close circle of friends - you don't need to air all of your dirty laundry to the public). Show them you are human and that you make mistakes just as they do. Show them you are not "holier than thou" so they will not be wrapped up in guilt when they stumble. Let them see that no one is perfect, least of all you. Your "human-ness" will be a better example than your "super spirituality."

No comments:

Post a Comment